5 Quick Solutions of How to Search a PDF on Mac


When we require to search for a word or a phrase in a text document, normally we simply have to use the "Ctrl + F" shortcut on Windows or the "command + F" instead of on Mac. To search for text in a PDF file is quite the same. Only the processors of PDF files are a bit different. This post will give you clear illustrations of how to search a PDF on different PDF viewers and on Mac devices. Furthermore, we'll even show you how to search and replace text in a PDF.

Method 1. How to Search a PDF on Mac with Preview

The Preview app is a built-in application on Mac to view and edit most documents and images including Word, Excel, PPT, PDF, TXT, RTF, JPG, PNG, GIF, etc. To search a PDF on Mac, the first choice is to use the Preview app. Here's how it works.

Step 1. Right-click on the PDF file you want to search, and choose "Open With" > "Preview". If there's no PDF reader program installed on your Mac computer, you can open the PDF with Preview by double-clicking on it.

Step 2. Enter a word or a phrase in the search field on the upper right corner, and then press "Enter" on your keyboard. Now you can see the search result from each PDF page listing on the left column. When you click on any specific page, all texts that match your search query are already highlighted with yellow color.

Search PDF In Mac Preview

One step further, how to search and replace certain words in a PDF? Well, Preview can not change the text of a PDF. Therefore, we can't directly replace the text in it. The eclectic solution is to convert the PDF to Word document, and then search and replace the text in the Word with Preview.

Method 2. How to Search a PDF on Mac in Safari

On Mac computers, Safari is not just a web browser for viewing web pages. It can also be used as a PDF viewer. Searching for words and phrases on a page of a PDF is also available in Safari.

Step 1. Right-click on the PDF file and go to "Open With" > "Safari" on the drop-down menu.

Step 2. Go to the "Edit" tab on top, and choose "Find" > "Find" to open activate the search option. Or you can use the shortcut "Command + F" to open the search box in Safari.

Safari Search in PDF

Step 3. Type the text you want to search in your PDF in the search box. As you type in, Safari is matting up for you at the same time. And you can see how many matches besides the search box. Press "Enter" or the "Next" icon to see the next matched text.

Safari Search in PDF Matches

Same as the Preview app, replacing the searched text in a PDF is not available in Safari. You'll need to convert the PDF to an editable Word document before you can search and replace text in Safari. Apart from Safari, other web browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox can also help you open and search a PDF, the operating steps are the same as in Safari.

Method 3. How to Search a PDF with PDF Expert

PDF Expert is a PDF reader that offers PDF users amazing reading experience and provides many practical tools to make your PDF unique. With PDF Expert, you can not only search a PDF but also search in multiple PDF files precisely in seconds.

Step 1. Download PDF Expert for Mac and install it on your computer. Then launch the software when the installation completes.

Step 2. Open all PDF files you want to search in PDF Expert. You can right-click on the files and choose "Open With" > "PDF Expert".

Step 3. Enter the word or phrase you want to search for on the search box, then hit the "Enter" key. Boom! All matches from all PDF files are listing in the search result on the right column. When you click on any specific result row, the program will direct you to that page.

PDF Expert Search PDF

Method 4. How to Search a PDF in PDFelement

Another powerful PDF editor and viewer that can help you search PDF effortlessly is PDFelement Pro. What's more, PDFelement Pro allows you to replace the searched words with one click. Now let's do it together.

Step 1. Download and install the Mac version of PDFelement Pro on your device.

Step 2. Run PDFelement Pro and click the "Open File" button on the main interface.

Step 3. There's a magnifying glass icon on the left sidebar, click on it to open a search field. Type the word or phrase in the search box and press "Enter". You can choose from "Match Whole Word" and "Mach Case" to filter the search results. In seconds, all search results will be displayed as rows on the left column. And on the right column, all matched texts will be highlighted in yellow color as well.

PDFelement Pro Search PDF Result

If you need to replace a new word to the searched word, you can use the "Command + F" instead. When the search box pops up, enter the word you want to replace in the search field and hit "Enter". Then use the "Previous" and "Next" option to navigate to the exact place you want to replace the word. Next, click "Replace With" and enter a new word or phrase to replace the old one.

PDFelement Pro Find And Replace

Method 5. How to Search for Words on Google Docs

Except for the built-in and third-party programs, there's another way to search a PDF on Mac. That is to use online tools, such as Google Docs, which can be accessed with an internet connection.

Step 1. Go to Google Docs online and log in with your Google account. Next, click on the "Open file picker" and choose "Upload" on the newly-opened window, then select a PDF file on your local device to upload to the server. You can also choose "My Drive" to add a file from your Google Drive.

Google Docs Open File Picker

Step 2. Your web browser will open the selected PDF file. Now open the drop-down tap on the "Open With Google Docs" and choose "Google Docs".

Open PDF With Google Docs

Step 3. To search the PDF only, press "Command + F" and enter specific text to search. To search and replace for certain words in the PDF, just go to the "Edit" menu on top, and choose "Find and replace".

Google Docs Find And Replace

Step 4. A "Find and replace" box will show up. Enter the word you want to replace on the "Find" box. And on the "Replace with" box, just type the new word you want to replace with. You can choose to "Replace all" or just "Replace" specific words.

Google Docs Find And Replace Example

And that's all you need to search a PDF on Mac. All the solutions we recommend in this post are simple and efficient. But please keep it in mind, only Google Docs and PDFelement supports searching and replacing words or phrases in a PDF. To search multiple PDF files PDF Expert is your best option. If you need to search multiple PDF documents in other programs like Preview, Safari, and Google Docs, just Merge the PDFs as one file before searching them.

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